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Article on HOG 1b Nick Pitts
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calling_the_hogs Offline
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Post: #1
 
Good article about Razorback 1B Nick Pitts, voted MVP of the Wichita Regional this past weekend.

WPS!

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Pitts has risen from ground up
RICK FIRES
FAYETTEVILLE -- Nick Pitts had to know, even if the answer wasn't what he wanted to hear.
Pitts had sat out a year and was riding the bench as a redshirt freshman in 2000 when the former walk-on approached Arkansas Coach Norm DeBriyn about his future with the team.
Was he ever going to get a chance to play?
"I told him no, and I was just trying to be brutally honest and not lead him on," DeBriyn said. "Nick looked at me and said, 'Thanks for your time' and went back to the batting cage.
"I didn't feel good about myself after that. I felt like a total heel. I mean, Nick is such a good kid and, not giving him any encouragement, I'll never forget that."
Whether Pitts shamed DeBriyn into it or not, Pitts' name began to emerge as Arkansas struggled through a 24-30 season, including 8-20 in the SEC. Arkansas had played 40 games in 2000 when Pitts got his first start at Georgia.
Pitts went 2 for 5 to start a seven-game hitting streak. He then hit his first career home run to put Arkansas ahead in the eighth inning of a 7-6 loss to Kentucky at Baum Stadium.
Pitts started the final 13 games in 2000 and finished with a .321 batting average. In 2001, he dropped to .246 in a season slowed by mononucleosis.
Pitts returned as the regular first baseman this season, and his late batting surge is a primary reason surprising Arkansas has advanced to baseball's version of the Sweet 16. Pitts has raised his average to .271 after hitting .583 and being named the outstanding player in the NCAA Regional at Wichita, Kan.
"I didn't like what Coach DeBriyn told me, but at least he was honest with me," said Pitts, the nephew of Memphis Redbirds Coach Gaylen Pitts. "It lit a fire under me, actually. I knew I was good enough to play, and I was determined to prove him wrong."
Pitts was a good enough defensive player at first base, but he needed to hit better at a position that demands offensive production. Arkansas assistant coach Doug Clark said Pitts willed himself into the lineup with hard work.
"The best word to describe Nick Pitts is perseverance," said Clark, who has coached Arkansas' hitters for 26 years. "His work ethic is plus-plus, and he has to hit [in batting practice] all the time. He's not a power guy, but he makes contact for the most part."
Pitts turned down a scholarship at Westark College for a chance to walk on at Arkansas. Had his career at Arkansas ended, Pitts said he would have pursued other Division I schools.
"I didn't want to play unless I was playing against the best," said Pitts, who played baseball, basketball and football at Mountain Home. "That's why I would've looked around at maybe some other SEC schools instead of going to junior college or Division II."
Arkansas is fortunate it had Pitts in the lineup last week at the NCAA Regional in Wichita. After a 1-for-5 showing in an 8-5 victory over Oklahoma, Pitts got hot in 7-6 and 11-6 victories against Oral Roberts. Pitts reached base eight consecutive times on six hits, a walk and hit batter.
Batting in the cleanup spot in Sunday's final, Pitts stood briefly at the plate and watched his second home run of the tournament easily clear the fence in right field at Eck Stadium.
"I'm more of a gap hitter, but I guess I had to savor the moment," said Pitts, who doubled his home run total to four. "There were a lot of guys hitting the ball last weekend, and that enabled us to get ahead in all three games. Everyone's contributing, and we're playing with a lot of confidence right now."
Arkansas (34-26) will be a huge underdog against Clemson (50-14), which has been ranked No. 1 in the country this season, but Pitts said the Razorbacks will not be intimidated.
"We couldn't care less about the rankings and statistics," Pitts said. "We play against the game, not the opposition. It wouldn't matter if there was a high school team against us out there. There's certain things we'll have to do every game.
"We'll be all right if we take care of ourselves and not worry about who we're playing."
06-06-2002 10:18 PM
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bigolhawg Offline
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Post: #2
 
Good article, I have always enjoyed Rick Fires from his days in Fort Smith and now in the Gazette. I love those kind of stories about a guy working his butt to the bone and it paying off. Pitts will be an intricate part if we are to win the series this weekend.
06-06-2002 10:31 PM
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calling_the_hogs Offline
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Post: #3
 
Yeah, Pitts is the kind of player that everyone can root for. He's Razorback red through and through.

WPS!
GO HOGS!
BEAT CLEMSON!
06-06-2002 10:48 PM
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